Mark 10:13-16 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child, shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.
Matthew 18:1-6 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven…”
Two encounters of Jesus in the Gospels reveal how valuable children were to our Lord. The artist here portrays Jesus, identified by the halo around his head, welcoming children of varying ages. The stone house on the right and a tree at the left border, suggest a town neighborhood. In the doorway of the house stands a woman holding an infant. The bright gold on the horizon reflects an early hour.
Jesus occupies the center panel in a homespun robe and purple mantel. In his left arm he holds a child about two years old, while he reaches with his other hand toward a ten-year-old girl in blue who stands in front of him. The girl clasps her hands together near her chin, as she gazes earnestly into his face.
In the left panel, a woman in blue enters the scene, with her right hand on the upper arm of an eight-year-old child holding flowers, encouraging the bashful child to step closer to Jesus. On the right, a child in a rose-colored garment approaches Jesus with hands upraised. Is he asking Jesus to pick him up, or is he running to embrace Jesus’ legs?
Surely our Lord is saying, “Let the children come to me…” Or is he chiding his disciples, “Whoever humbles himself like the child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”?